Border Patrol Nabs Pot Shipment As Smugglers Flee Across River To Mexico

By Keri Blakinger 07/05/17

Authorities recovered more than 800 pounds of pot from the pickup truck.

pickup truck stuck in riverbed
via Border Patrol

Their splashdown got a smackdown. 

Would-be pot smugglers hauling more than $600,000 of drugs were intercepted Tuesday after abandoning their load in a “splashdown”-style escape in South Texas, according to Border Patrol

The daring drug drop-off was foiled after agents working near the Rio Grande spotted a pickup truck loaded up with unidentified bundles cruising through a local golf course. When the agents approached the vehicle, the driver changed course and drove into the river. Two people ditched the drug truck and swam back to Mexico. 

Authorities picked up the pickup and recovered more than 800 pounds of pot valued at $641,320. 

Since October, Rio Grande-area Border Patrol has seen an uptick in splashdown activity, a tactic traffickers use to evade agents by driving into the border river. Of the 14 splashdowns spotted since last fall, 10 of them occurred in the Rio Grande City Station’s area, which is also the area with the most drug seizures in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. 

Aside from the seized splashdown stash, Border Patrol agents intercepted at least three other massive marijuana shipments in the past week. In Marfa, a drug dog examining a Chevy Silverado caught wind of a hidden compartment stuffed with more than $850,000 of weed. 

“This is yet another example of the threat that drug smugglers present to our neighborhoods, but our agents will continue around-the-clock to prevent that from happening,” Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jesse Shaw said in a press release. “Their dedication is key to our nation’s security.”

In Laredo, Border Patrol busted an enterprising drug smuggler who’d packed 3,707 pounds of pot into fake heads of lettuce. Agents intercepted the shipment of greenery last Monday, when a drug dog flagged a tractor trailer at the Colombia-Solidarity International Bridge. Upon further inspection of the truck, authorities discovered 5,754 packages of pot with an estimated street value of more than $740,000.

Out in California, agents collared a man in a semi-truck hauling 38 cardboard boxes filled with pot. The truck boasted 150 wrapped cellophane packages with more than 1.5 tons of weed and an estimated street value of roughly $1.7 million. 

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.